The management of natural resources, especially the prosecution of forestry and fisheries crimes, is not within the jurisdiction or the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, minister Veng Sakhon said.

Sakhon made the remarks on July 19 in response to recent criticism from the media and public over the issues.

The minister said critics had not been following the government’s reform process and have misunderstood the role of the ministry.

“The management of natural resources, especially the suppression of forest and fisheries crimes is the full responsibility of the municipal, provincial, town or district authorities as the ministry delegates power to the local administrations to implement management, conservation and measures to prevent such crimes,” he said.

According to the ministry, local administrations have full responsibility for the management of all businesses using forest and fishery resources with a licence, as well as the prevention and elimination of any illegal businesses.

In order to ensure the effective implementation of natural resource management, the municipal, provincial, town, and district administrations need to strengthen inspections and take measures to eliminate unauthorised timber transportation and storage within their respective jurisdictions.

The local administrations have to take measures to eliminate the unauthorised export of timber and all kinds of wood products, as well as smuggling wildlife via border crossings and corridors.

In addition, the local administrations must coordinate with relevant authorities to maintain and protect natural resources as well as prevent criminal activity in conservation and protected areas.

“The ministry has been striving to fully implement duties assigned by the prime the minister and hopes the public, especially the media, understands what changes have been made,” Sakhon said.

Pith Phirak, deputy director of Battambang provincial Forestry Administration, confirmed to The Post that the prevention of forestry and wildlife crimes as well as fisheries crimes is the responsibility of each municipal or provincial administration.

“This year the provincial Forestry Administration under the leadership of the provincial unified command has investigated and cracked down on many forestry crimes. Six suspects were sent to court and three bulldozers and many cubic metres of timber were confiscated and fines were issued in 12 cases,” he said.